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30. Judgment, Role in Science


Subject Philosophy

Key-Topics judgment, science

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631230205.2001.00033.x


According to a widely held view of science, scientific hypotheses are evaluated on the basis of observational data in accordance with the rules of inductive logic. Inductive logic, like deductive logic, is supposed to consist of a set of formal rules. These rules abstract from any details of the specific hypothesis under examination, the context in which the evaluation is taking place, and the individuals who carry out the evaluation. Observational data are also independent of the context or the observer in the following sense: there may be individual and cultural limitations on what observations are undertaken, but the outcome of an observation procedure is presumably independent of the observer's preferences or peculiarities. Now, given impersonal data and a set of formal rules, the assessment of a hypothesis will be completely impersonal. The fact that a scientist thinks of a hypothesis and undertakes to evaluate that hypothesis may depend on individual features of that scientist and on the current state of science, but the resulting evaluation will be free of individual, historical, or cultural factors. Any two scientists who evaluate a hypothesis on the basis of the same observational evidence must arrive at the same evaluation of that hypothesis. We shall see in this chapter that this ideal does not come close to describing how science actually works. Rather, the process of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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